PUPILS at Mountford Manor Primary School get a treat of a different kind when they use their new vending machine.

Instead of snacks and chocolates they get to take home a book to savour.

The converted sweet machine, installed this week, is packed with titles for a range of ages and is part of a push to encourage children to enjoy reading.

It was the idea of head Lee Edmonds who was inspired after seeing another school in the Midlands had done it.

“I’ve been looking at ways in which our school can encourage kids to read for pleasure as it helps with fluency and if we encourage them, hopefully it will get them interested so they will want to read,” he said.

“It’s not just about the reward element, but promoting it so that it encourages them and it’s something unusual.”

The school paid the £1,350 total cost of conversion using a mix of fundraising and donations and it plans to stage an assembly for parents to launch it officially.

Pupils earn tokens allowing them to take out a book by doing recorded reading sessions at home that last 15 minutes. For every 50 sessions they are rewarded with a token for the machine.

“We have our five golden rules here and one of them is to develop a culture of reading. We know the target of 50 reads at home is not easy to get but it is achievable and we want it to be a special award,” said Lee.

“We may do a big push and develop a challenge to see how many they can read in a month or if they read a list of books, they also get a token.”

“It’s about raising the profile and esteem of reading so they recognise they do enjoy it and so they read more often."

It wasn't just a case of promoting reading, it was showing the children it was valued as a life skill.

Pupils are all fired up to earn their tokens and use the machine, which caters for all key stages apart from the nursery and includes books donated by the National Literature Trust charity.

Family support worker Suzanne Gregory said: “We had a lot of community supporters who made donations which was great.”

“Reading links to so many things - spelling, grammar and English. We could develop it for the nursery with a book for different age groups as well.

"But it’s full up with good books and as it’s by one of our libraries in the foyer it’s the first thing people see.”